Review: Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Title: Masquerade
Author: Melissa de la Cruz

I first heard about this series on Facebook. Everywhere I went, I kept reading about the Blue Bloods series and "OMG, do you think Schuyler will end up with Jack or Ollie?!"

Intrigued, I decided to pick it up.

I read through book one, Blue Bloods, pretty quickly and while I didn't find it particularly dense...I will say this: THESE BOOKS ARE ADDICTIVE. It's like Gossip Girl on crack, except that the crack is this amazingly convoluted Angel-Vampire story line.

Background on the book: Before I get into it too much, here's what Amazon has to say:

Schuyler Van Alen wants an explanation for the mysterious deaths of young vampires. With her best friend, Oliver, Schuyler travels to Italy in the hope of finding the one man who can help--her grandfather. Meanwhile, back in New York, preparations are feverishly underway for the Four Hundred Ball, an exclusive gala hosted by the city's wealthy, powerful, and unhuman--a true Blue Blood affair.

But it's at the after-party, a masquerade ball thrown by the cunning Mimi Force, that the real danger lurks. Hidden behind the masks is a revelation that will forever change the course of a young vampire's destiny.

Rich with glamour, attitude, and vampire lore, this second installment in the Blue Bloods saga will leave readers thirsting for more.
In short: In many ways, Masquerade is more plot driven than Blue Bloods. Where gaps were left in the first book, they were subsequently filled in this installment. At last, De La Cruz elaborates on the strengths and weaknesses of the so called Blue Blood elite. She also cunningly begins to unravel the mystery behind the Silver Bloods and adds a new level of depth to her characters making them that much more realistic and relatable.

Still, I have some things I love about this book and some things I'm not particularly fond of. From here on out this review is riddled with spoilers, so if you haven't read the book... you know what to do!

Things I Love:

- Love that Schuyler and Ollie went to Italy to find her grandfather, Lawrence. His character adds a boost to the series. I also like that Schuyler will have some sort a parental figure again.

- I really enjoyed reading about Maggie Stanford. I think it's rather clever to have these little bits of the past in between chapters. I reminds me a bit of Anna Godbersen's The Luxe series.

- I think Schuyler's transition from human to Blue Blood is interesting. Her struggle with her emotions and mixed heritage is compelling and adds depth to her character. For example:
The thirst was a low hum, like music in the back of your head that you didn't even notice, but once in a while it would raise its voice, and there was no mistaking it. She found herself drawn to Oliver in a new way, and she blushed when she looked at him.
-While I could definitely do without so many designer names being thrown around, I think that De la Cruz' descriptions are sometimes rather beautiful and romantic. I especially like her description of Mimi's dress for the Four Hundred Ball.
It was made of the thinnest white silk satin, and when she picked it up, it felt like a whisper between her fingers, it was so fragile. Just as she had ordered, it was severe in its simplicity. It looked like nothing on the hanger- like a plain white piece of cloth. It was corded with a heavy silver chain at the hips, and had a sexy, unexpected keyhole cut out at the hip done- the one concession to modern fashion she had allowed... When she stood in front of the light, her form would be shown in complete blackened silhouette; every curve of her body, every line from neck to breast, from waist to hips to her endless legs, she would be at once covered and yet exposed, clothed and unclothed, garbed and yet nude.
- While I sometimes find Mimi tiresome, I love her relationship with Jack. Their connection really shines through, especially in this novel.
His eyes glazed over. She could see what he saw through his eyes, and she knew he was remembering that first night as well. She could see the cloudless Venetian sky, their footsteps light and quick over the bridge. She could see herself through his eyes, and eternity younger - how young they had been then - at the dawn of the world, before the wars, before the dark.
How did you find... is it the same one?
No, sadly that dress is gone to the Tiber river... Silk does not keep a thousand years, my darling. This is a new one, for a new bonding.

- Now, here's the crux. While I definitely 'ship Schuyler and Ollie, I can't help but be deeply attracted to Jack. So, when the incident with the masked kiss happens at the balls after-party, I really couldn't help but get some butterflies in my stomach. (Let it be noted, however, that up until the end of the book I was still unsure as to who she had really kissed. A nod to good writing in that respect.)

- Like I said before, where Blue Bloods left a lot of pending questions, Masquerade was quick to answer them. At last, we are given more information on Blue Blood abilities, as well as tactics to combat a Silver Blood! I enjoyed reading Lawrence's training sessions with Schuyler.

- One of the things I like best about this series is the revamping (pun intended) of vampire lore. I think it's a rather cool twist that these vampires are fallen angels. It steers clear of the traditional vampire stereotype, which not only makes the series rather entertaining, but also leaves us begging for more. Along these lines, I like Mimi's explanation of Jack's lure towards Schulyer/Gabrielle being that of darkness being drawn to the light. You will find it below:
Gabrielle. It was always Gabrielle. Even before the Fall, it has been so. Gabrielle, the Virtuous, the Messenger, an archangel of the White, the one who would bring news of salvation. Mimi and Jack were Angels of the Underworld, their destiny one of darkness and justice, to remind man of their mortality. And yet Jack, Abbadon, had always been drawn to the Light. Had always been drawn to the power of the White.

- I adore Ollie. I absolutely love his sense of humor. I especially found the note he sends to Schuyler, after deciding to become her familiar, funny. "See you there tonight. Chomp! Chomp!"

- Speaking of Ollie... that kiss! I love you, Ollie. I do. Truly.
But Schuyler didn't finish, because Oliver was putting a warm hand on her chin and drawing her toward him, and soon they were kissing. Soft, tentative kisses that turned more vigorous as they opened their mouths to each other.
"Mmm..." she sighed. So this was what it was like. Kissing Oliver. It wasn't anything like she'd imagined. It was better. It was as if they were made for each other. Schuyler pressed herself against him, and Oliver put his hand through her hair. This was new. This was a turning point.
I would love to see Schuyler end up with Oliver. I just love an underdog! I also think that his love is a lot purer than Jack's. Where Jack will constantly have to struggle with his feelings, Ollie's will always ring true. Schuyler would never have to worry whether someone else was destined for him, whereas she would constantly be in Mimi's shadow with Jack. I have hope for this pair since Schuyler is a half blood and thus has no prior lives/twin.

Van Alen/Hazard-Perry Oliver 2008!

Sadly, however, I think Jack may just force Ollie out of the competition. As a side note: Let's not mention how much more normal it would be for her to end up with Ollie seeing as how he's, you know, not her cousin!

- I like the whole explosion/ Mimi-blamed-for-everything twist. I was happy for some new action in the story. It was much needed.

- I think it's pretty great that Schuyler is immensely powerful. If this novel did anything, it was add depth to Schuyler character. Whereas in Blue Bloods she was rather static, in Masquerade she has thankfully developed into a much more dynamic character.

Things I Dislike:

- De la Cruz name drops labels like we're in an episode of America's Next Top Model. Alas, since Bliss and Schuyler are already models... I wonder who will win the cover of Seventeen Magazine?!

-While I find Bliss' blackouts interesting, I can't help but wonder... how the hell does she stay awake during the day? For someone who never gets to sleep, she seems rather active. If I were Bliss, I would be falling off chairs and passing out everywhere. It would be like I had mononucleosis x 1000.

- Why do the kids at Duchesne dress like slobs around exam time? I don't really understand why they would do that. It just seems somewhat strange and out of place in such a high fashion world.

- I still find the love triangle (or is it a square? Perhaps even a pentagon?) kind of bizarre. Mimi and Jack are supposed to be soul mates, the angels of death and destruction, yet they are also brother and sister? And Schuyler is Charles' niece, therefore Jack's cousin, yet she is madly in love with him and he with her? And Jack was in love with Schuyler's mother, Allegra, in a past life? And so was Jack's father, who is also Allegra's brother and Schuyler's uncle? It's all a bit much and (not going to lie) a bit creepy. Nothing says I love you like incest!

- And in today's episode of Day's of Our (Vampire) Lives: Bliss is Allegra's long lost daughter and Schuyler's sister! YES!!

All in all: Masquerade is a fun book. While I have some issues with the whole incest thing, I find the characters compelling and realistic, especially that of Schuyler and Oliver. De la Cruz does a good job of creating tension, thus keeping you interested and on your toes throughout the book. I find her reinvention of the classical vampire myth interesting and clever. Whilst I could do with a little less name dropping, I find her descriptions of certain clothing to be deeply romantic and hope to see more of it in the future.

I would recommend these books if you like gossipy novels and would like to read a book with a bite.

Rating for Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz: B
Also, Revelations (Book III in the series) comes out on Tuesday, Oct. 28. Click here to buy it.

- E.B

P.S. Here's a little play list for you all.

  1. Mari Said,

    It is the label mentioning that bothers me as well.
    Fun books other wise. I just finished Blue Bloods and am only a few chapters in on Masquerade.

    Posted on October 25, 2008 at 11:56 PM

  2. The labels just date the book quicker. Fads change constantly. If she would just describe the clothing instead of naming designers, the book wouldn't age as quickly. :/

    Let me know what you think of Masquerade!

    Posted on October 26, 2008 at 11:15 PM


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